2019 CONFERENCE AND AGM - Waitangi Golf Course

The conference and annual general meeting this year was held on 25 May at the Waitangi Golf Course, Bay Of Islands. The club rooms were well suited for our gathering in this prime position, overlooking the Bay Of Islands and far into the distance.

The Committee in 2019: Wilhelm Lehmberg (Chair), Lu Tyree (Financial Officer), Colin Mairs (Membership Secretary), Helen Tait (Association Secretary with the assistance of Lu). Ordinary Committee Members – Axel Knauer (dedicated Web Administrator) and Herbie Mues.

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Kelvin Davis and Committee
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The major focus of the pre-AGM conference was ‘be prepared’ with Sue Walke from ‘Walke and Talk’ in Napier provided the audience with recommendations for the best apps when it comes to emergency cases, and which are very useful to have them as a tour guide:

• AED Locations NZ
• St. John NZ
• Red Cross Hazards
• Met Service
• Geonet
• National Radio

Prominent guest speaker of the day was Labour MP and tourism minister Kelvin Davis. He believes the tourism sector should remain on the growth trajectory. “We have to bring tourism into the regions and develop a better destination management”, he said at the meeting, which was attended by over 40 tour and driver guides. An international visitor levy of NZ$ 35 will be one way to gather additional resources for managing the region. ProGuides has long lobbied for a levy like that, especially to fund the work of the department of conservation. Davis confirmed that 50% of the income of the levy will go to tourism and 50% to conservation.

“But it’s a number game”, argues PG chairperson Wilhelm Lehmberg. “We need solutions and ideas. The sustainability commitment needs teeth”, he says. “If you talk quality, then do quality and don’t just add up numbers. Make sure the more affluent market stays longer with more time to discover the regions. You minimize the environmental impact of flying by staying longer!” A press release by ProGuides NZ has been sent out to all relevant media and industry contacts.

The actual AGM was carried out in a relaxed atmosphere with no major issues.
Wilhelm Lehmberg (Chair), Lu Tyree (Financial Officer), Colin Mairs (Membership Secretary) and Helen Tait (Association Secretary) were re-elected, as were two Ordinary Committee Members: Axel Knauer (in his capacity as the Web Administrator) and Herbie Mues.

For dinner we sailed across the water to Russell, where we enjoyed scrumptious homemade food at the Swordfish Club in Russel. Although this is suitable for groups, you need to know someone who is club member for a visit. If you happen to do that, go for it. The club is wonderful and very Kiwiana.

Sunday was famil day, filled with a variety of topics and stops. One of the most interesting facts that we learned was that New Zealand is on the brink of becoming an important banana exporter, at least the very far North. We started the day with a number of visits in Kerikeri Rainbow Falls was the first must-see attraction. This short, easy walk suitable for buggies, leads to the stunning Rainbow Falls on the Kerikeri River and is also accessible by wheelchair.

Next, we went to the ecological sanctuary of Aroha Island, which is a very nice holiday accommodation and camping ground.

Highlight of the morning was Wharepuke Subtropical Garden, which included morning tea at the Maha Café and a stroll for garden and art enthusiasts. Wharepuke offers also accommodation. It was here, where we learnt that New Zealand is about to become an important banana grower (New Zealand Bananas). After morning tea, we walked through the garden, which is nearly two hectares in size and open all the year around. A sculpture trail of around 40 art works is set within the gardens (Wharepuke Sculpture Trail).

Next stop was Café Jerusalem in Kerikeri, where we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch, traditional and authentic Israeli cuisine made the old fashioned way (Cafe Jerusalem).

Living Nature welcomed us just after lunch in their natural beauty supply store in Kerikeri (Living Nature). After we filled our shopping bags, we headed to Te Waimate Mission House, where we met Alex Bell, who manages the Mission House for the Heritage Society since 2018. He enthusiastically shared his in-depth knowledge about the land, the settlers and the Maori links with them. (Waimate North Mission

Last stop of the day was the Treaty of Waitangi Museum where two excellent documentary movies inform the visitor about the whole history of the founding document of this nation, and how things developed afterwards. (Waitangi Museum & Treaty Grounds)

About half of this years attendees joined the pre and post famil trips connecting to Auckland. Sharron Hickman had put together an eclectic program that enthused the participants. No wonder the association has ensured her services for 2020 which will in all likelihood see us meeting in Hokitika at the West Coast 22.-24.May.

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